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Capital expo attracts large business crowd

Posted: September 26, 2012 2:00 a.m.
Updated: September 26, 2012 2:00 a.m.

Valley Economic Development Center President Roberto Barragan addresses the packed house at the Where's the Money expo conference about access to capital held at the Hyatt Regency Valencia on Saturday.

Some 600 business people packed into the Where’s the Money expo in Santa Clarita on Saturday seeking information on accessing operating capital for their businesses.

This is the first time the Valley Economic Development Center has brought the business capital expo — its 11th annual — to Santa Clarita. It did so, in part, at the invitation of the Santa Clarita Valley Economic Development Corporation.

The EDC has been working in partnership with VEDC and their business loan program, said Jonas Peterson, president and CEO of the local EDC organization. The EDC thought Santa Clarita was a good market for the VEDC to come into because there are many opportunities here, he said.

The VEDC has expanded its footprint and services outside the San Fernando Valley, Roberto Barragan, president of VEDC. And Santa Clarita is an extremely business-friendly city, he said.

“Santa Clarita is more and more becoming part of one big valley,” Barragan said. “More of our clients work in Santa Clarita, a large number of our borrowers’ live in Santa Clarita, and one-third of our employees live in Santa Clarita.”

Several work sessions were held at the expo in the morning — some to standing room only. On average, around 75 people attended each of the six workshops, said Lisa Winkle, VEDC’s media specialist. The sessions focused on unconventional sources of financing, business loan accessibility and how to qualify, credit repair and starting a small business. Expo attendees also heard from actual entrepreneurs.

Book publisher Regina Mixon, of Carson, attended the event looking for operating capital for her company Regs Books. Meeting some of the advisers face-to-face to discuss challenges as a business owner was very helpful, she said.

“This event had been great,” Mixon said. “There’s been a wealth of information for business owners.”

Devon Davis with Orange County-based Business Incentive Solutions attended the expo hoping to make contacts with business owners in need of help with state and federal assistance programs, including Enterprise Zone tax incentives.

Business bankers from eight banks were also on hand to assist business owners in reviewing their opertaing capital needs, though none of the local community-based banks were present at the expo. The SCV Small Business Development Center and an out-of-area chamber of commerce was also in attendance, along with representatives from the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program.

J.C. Burnett, owner and president of Santa Clarita-based Courier-Messenger Inc., served on the panel of entrepreneurs sharing real life experiences as business owners with expo attendees.

When asked how a business owner should judge success, Burnett said, “You judge success when you’re asked to serve on a panel.”

Cynthia Kawa, the keynote speaker at the luncheon and CEO of New Horizons, explained the benefits of when a company hires employees through the non-profit organization that serves people with Down syndrome.

New Horizons provides labor for top companies like Costco, BJ’s Restaurant and Brewhouse, Torrance Medical Center and more, Kawa said.

Jonas Peterson of the EDC took the opportunity to appeal to out of area business owners on the many benefits of doing business, and living in, Santa Clarita. With lower wage and property costs, low crime and master plan communities, the region offers businesses cost savings and an increase in quality of life, he said. And Peterson pointed out that the SCV’s Enterprise Zone, which doesn’t expire until 2026, will be the last Enterprise Zone standing in California, Peterson said.

“Santa Clarita’s economy is expected to outperform Los Angeles County, and the state,” he said.

The EDC hopes to have the event in Santa Clarita every year, he said, because it’s a great chance to provide resources to businesses seeking capital access.




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